Often times movies push the limits of reality, but the ballistic suit in the movie “John Wick” may not be that far off. A Virginia-based company called Aspetto offers custom suits and undershirts fitted with ballistic lining that are Level II and Level IIIA certified.
We recently got to first hand review one of these suits. Now, let’s get to all the nerdy ballistic stuff we love.
So how does it work?
Ballistic panels are sewn into the suit, then the material is conditioned and formed so the armor is low profile. A ballistic undershirt can be worn beneath the suit to give full torso coverage. The exact materials used in the lining are a closely guarded secret.
How is that possible?
Well, bruises are better than bullet holes, right? In the aforementioned movie, the tailor emphasizes the gun shots will hurt like hell, but you’ll still live. After the projectile is stopped by the armor, we have to worry about the momentum of the round. We look at the Back Face Signature, commonly referred to as Back Face Deformation (or BFD), which is used to describe the transfer of kinetic energy from a projectile through the backside of soft armor it has impacted.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) specified that the flex behind the armor cannot exceed a maximum of 44mm which comes out to about 1.73”. The FBI deems BFD under 2” as “life saving.” This ensures the wearer of the armor has a minimum chance of additional complications, such as broken ribs tearing soft tissue or other potential injuries.
What can it stop?
An official NIJ certified product, the Aspetto panels haven been tested rigorously and proven effective. The difference between the two ratings of Level II and Level IIIA is the caliber the armor is certified to stop. A lot of factors such as distance, angle, number of shots, and more go into this, but generally speaking Level IIIA is expected to stop projectiles fired from most handguns and Level II is expected to stop 9mm or smaller.
The rule of thumb for many police agencies is to wear armor rated to stop the caliber of the service weapon you carry. This means many police officers wear Level II and Level IIIA, depending on requirements such as mobility, budget, and appearance.
Who is Aspetto?
Aspetto was started in 2008 as a Bespoke suit company and began armor and tactical gear production in 2011. Since then, they have been awarded contracts by multiple Government agencies for their plate carriers and other ballistic solutions. They bear the distinction of being America’s first bullet resistant clothing line. Co-founders Robert Davis and Abbas Haider were listed on the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 list. The co-founders have a personal love for testing their products and of fine tailored suits.
Who was this designed for?
Those who have needs for discrete ballistic protection apparently. An anonymous Regional Security Officer (RSO), who oversaw Diplomatic Security and Special Agents in the Middle East for the Department of State, told us he sees the value of this product in executive protection. Security personnel, and the VIPs they are assigned to protect, could wear the suit and if the need arises, the agents could use the jacket as a “throw over” to cover the VIP as they escort them to safety.
Is this for me?
The simple answer depends on two things: do you love freedom and why not? If you want to exercise your constitutional right to purchase legal goods from our free market economy then go for it! If not… no harm no foul. If you so desire, these suits can be ordered directly from Aspetto’s website, here, where “quick shipping” is offered by the company.
Aspetto recently made a public statement saying “Thank you for your support…We understand there are many variables that go into every mission. Please understand this (suit) is only one solution for many dynamic problems our customers face in austere environments. We would be happy to customize anything to fit your real world needs.”
We don’t expect to be duking it out with a legion of assassins anytime soon. (But I may get one for my best friend the next time he goes to divorce court.) Either way this is a unique example of American innovation and deserves recognition.